Infancy and Culture: An International Review and Source Book

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Rosalind B.Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

7

THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF INFANTS RESIDING IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

AN EXAMINATION OF THE LITERATURE

Domini R. Castellino

Dating as far back as prehistoric time, Europe has been and continues to be occupied by numerous peoples and nations. Although the second-smallest continent in the world, Europe boosts the second- largest population of all the continents. Europe contains a number of peninsulas such as the Iberian, Italian, and Kola, as well as a large number of offshore islands, including Sicily, Crete, and the British Isles. Moreover, the various countries contained within Europe, such as Germany, France, Ireland, and the Scandinavian countries, generate a variety of cultures and ethnic groups.

Although many nations are, in general, comprised of one dominant cultural group, immigration is slowly diversifying many European countries. For example, a large proportion of Asian Turks, Arabs, and black Africans reside in western Europe. Moreover, the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) led to the formation of 15 individual republics, each with its own dominant ethnic group. Thus, when referring to the cultural context of European infants, numerous and diverse cultural standards, values, histories, and norms must be considered.

Consequently, problems may arise for social scientists conducting research on these populations due to potential barriers such as language differences, cultural values, time, and money. In addition, designing “contextually sensitive” measures and deciding when it is appropriate to use similar constructs for groups of different race, ethnicity, and social class is an arduous task.

The current chapter describes only 19 studies that have been published on various groups of infants residing in several European countries and locations, the majority of which have been conducted in the 1980s and the 1990s. Much of the research reviewed here involves infants with diversified backgrounds, ranging from English, Vietnamese, North African, Asian, Bangladeshi, and West Indian, who are currently living in several European

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